I got into an interesting conversation with Julie Clark, a Sarbannes Oxley consultant, while I was at DIA waiting for a plane to Chicago yesterday. On the flight, I began thinking about the Enron mess that precipitated SOX. That led to me thinking about ethics in business. I’ve been meaning to do a post about ethics for a while…
I received a complimentary issue of a print newsletter, Leading for Results recently. There was a front page article on ethics that was adapted from a book by Ken Blanchard and Norman Vincent Peale, entitled The Power of Ethical Management.
The article is worth posting here.
Whenever you’re faced with a tough decision, ask yourself these three questions:
- Is it legal? Will you be violating either company policy or law?
- Is it fair and balanced? Are all people involved in the decision being treated fairly – in both the short and long term? Will certain individuals get hurt?
- How will I feel when it’s done? How will the decision make you feel about yourself? Will you be proud of what you did? If it was published in the newspaper, would you feel good about your friends and family reading it?
These are great questions. Ethical issues are seldom black and white. There are usually lots of shades of gray involved.
The Monday, June 12 issue of The Wall Street Journal ran a piece on ethics training. The advice:
- Use meaningful case studies, and have employees discuss them.
- Have line managers lead ethics training; hearing it from the boss reinforces the message.
- Give employees multiple ways to seek ethics advice.
- Make sure top executives communicate that ethics training is a priority, not just an exercise.
The same issue of Leading for Results had another piece on ethics that suggested that job rotation can improve ethical behavior.
- “One positive benefit of job rotation may be that employees experience fewer ethical lapses. Many moral errors occur when people simply do the same thing they’ve always done, or respond to a routine situation without trying to think of alternatives because they’ve gotten used to dealing with it in a particular way. But people new on a job, won’t have that kind of ‘script’ to rely on, and may be more sensitive to ethical dilemmas others might not recognize.”
The common sense point here is that good ethics is good business. If you’re a leader, set the example. If you’re a worker bee, ask yourself Ken Blanchard and Norman Vincent Peale’s third question any time you are in doubt – How will I feel about myself if I do this? Be honest with yourself. Your moral compass won’t let you down.
That’s it for today. Thanks for reading. Log on to my website, www.BudBilanich.com for more common sense leadership and career advice.
I’ll see you around the web, and at Alex’s Lemonade Stand.
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